2018 Kia Stinger Si V6 and GT-Line Turbo Four: Car Review

There’s been few cars released into the automotive market that have divided opinions as much as the new 2018  Kia Stinger. Available in three trim levels and with a choice of two engines mated to the single transmission offered, an eight speed auto, the Stinger spent a fortnight with A Wheel Thing, in V6 twin turbo Si and top of the range GT-Line turbo four.The Si sits in the middle of the V6 range and is priced at $55990 plus on roads and options. The GT-Line with the turbo four is the same price and came clad in a gorgeous $695 option Snow White Pearl paint. There’s the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing over the seven years, with the V6 being a total of $221 over the turbo 4.The V6 is the driver’s pick and backing up the four straight after sees it suffer in comparison. The 3.3L capacity V6 has a peak power figure of 272 kW at 6000 rpm and a monstrous 510 Nm of torque from 1300 to 4500. The four in comparison is 182 kW at 6200 rpm, and maxes out a torque figure of 353 Nm between 1400 to 4000 rpm. Although the V6 has a tare weight of 1780 kilos versus the four’s 1693 kg, it gets away cleaner and quicker, overtakes quicker, and will comfortably beat the four to the ton. Surprisingly, the required fuel is standard ULP and comes from a 60L tank.

Consumption is quoted for the V6 as 10.2L/14.9L/7.5L per hundred for the combined/urban/highway. The four isn’t much better, at 8.8L/12.7L/6.5L. AWT’s final figure for the six was 11.6L/100 km and for the four a slightly more reasonable 9.3L. These figures are slightly disturbing, in all honesty, as they’re more or less line-ball with the V8 engine seen in Holden’s VF Commodore and over the slightly bigger naturally aspirated 3.6L V6.There is a trade-off for that consumption and in the case of the V6 it’s the extraordinary driveability it offers. Off the line, and bear in mind it does offer Launch Control, it’ll see the 100 kmh mark in a quoted 4.9 seconds. There’s absolutely no doubt in that claim apart from a possibility it’s conservative. On a 48 hour trip to Dubbo in the central west of New South Wales, those 510 torques were so very useable in overtaking, with times to get up and pass and doing so safely compressed thanks to that torque.By having such an amount available through so many revs makes general, every day, driving unbelievably easy, with such a docile nature it’ll happily potter around the suburbs as easily as it will stretch its legs out in the country. The throttle setup is responsive to a thought, and there’s a real sense of urgency in how it all happens. There’s a bi-modal exhaust and this cracks a valve in the rear pipes allowing a genuine crackle and snarl from over 2500. Otherwise it’s a vacuum cleaner like woofle that can become wearying very quickly.The four, as mentioned, suffers in comparison, lacking the outright flexibility the bigger engine has. Note: “in comparison”. On its own the 2.0L turbo four, as found in the Optima GT and the sibling Sonata from Hyundai, is a belter. Paired against the big brother 330 it is slightly slower, slightly less able, slightly less quick to get going from a good prod of the go pedal as it waits for the turbo to spool up. Overseas markets do get a diesel and this is potentially the engine that Kia should replace the petrol four with. As long, as long, as it offers comparable performance to the V6.

The eight speed auto in both cars is a simple joy to use. All of the words that mean slick and smooth can be used here. Changes are largely unfelt, rarely does the backside feel anything other than forward motion as the ratios change. And naturally there’s different drive modes. Comfort is the default with Eco, Sports, Custom (GT-Line) and Smart the others and accessed via a dial in the console. However, somewhat confusingly, you can access a menu via the seven or eight inch (trim level dependent) touchscreen and set the steering to Sports, engine/transmission to Sport, and suspension to Sport yet have the driver’s display show Comfort from the dial setting.In Sport, the transmission doesn’t change any more cleanly but will hold revs longer and feels as if the shift points themselves change. There’s no manual shift mode as such; what this means is that the gear selector doesn’t have a side push or buttons to do a manual change. There are paddle shifts and once used doesn’t stay in manual mode but reverts quickly back to auto. What this means for the driver is simple piece of mind and not having to worry which mode the transmission is still in.Roadholding and handling from both was nigh on nearly impeccable. BUT, and it’s an odd one, the V6’s mechanical limited slip differential rear had more of a propensity for skipping sideways even on flat and relatively settled surfaces. A slight bump, a ripple, and the rear would move just enough to alert you of it. The Stinger has a big footprint though, with a 2905mm wheelbase inside the 4830mm overall length.Track front and rear also helps at over 1650mm minimum, as do the offset tyres of 225/40 & 255/35 on 19s for the Si and GT-Line six and GT-Line four. The others have 225/45/18s. And it’s McPherson struts front matching the Aussie tuned multilink rear that provide the superb roadholding the Stinger exhibits. The steering is precise, well weighted, en pointe, and tells you exactly how the road is feeling.There’s Launch Control on board as well and it’s a fairly simple matter to engage. Traction control gets turned off, the car must be in Sports mode, AND the computer must be happy with the engine temperature. It’ll also limit the amounts of attempts. Brakes in the V6 come courtesy of Brembo, however seats of the pants says the brakes in the four cylinder equipped Stinger are just as able.Design wise the Stinger foreshadows and continues a coupe like look for a five door sedan or four door hatchback. It’s a long, flat, E-Type-ish bonnet that has two faux vents. Apart from aesthetic reasons they’re pointless. Why? Because there’s vents in the front bumber into the wheelwell and from the rear of the wheelwell that exits from vents in the front doors. The roofline tapers back in a gentle curve before terminating in a rear that’s a cross between an Audi A5 and Maserati. The rear lights themselves are Maserati and LED lit front and rear in the GT-Line. Inside there’s plenty of legroom in the rear, a slightly compromised cargo space at 406L due to the hatchback style, a power gate for the GT-Line, and a stylishly trimmed interior. Plastics, for the most part, look high quality, and the overall presence echoes something from Europe, perhaps Jaguar, in this case. The central upper dash mounted seven inch touchscreen that looks as if it rises and falls, ala Audi, for example. It’s mostly intuitive, clean to read and use, but sensitivity needs to be upped as sometimes two or three taps were required to activate a menu. There’s DAB radio and here there’s a minor hiccup.With other brands tested with a DAB tuner, in comparison the one used in the Stinger also lacked the sensitivity found in others, with dropouts in more areas in comparison. There’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus voice recognition, with the middle and top range Stingers having nine or fifteen speakers with under front seat subwoofers. Harman Kardon is the feature brand in the GT-Line. As an overall presentation is pretty damned good, yet there’s still a sense of, in the top of the range GT-Line especially, that it lacks a knockout punch, and doesn’t seem to visually say this is a premium vehicle.The menu system on the touchscreen includes safety options such as voice warning for school zones, merging lanes and such like. Although an eminently worthwhile feature it became tiresome very quickly. Thankfully the voice presentation can be deactivated. Extra safety comes in the form of a forward camera and 360 degree camera depending on the model. The 360 degree version superimposes a Stinger top down view into the picture on one side of the screen and shows whichever camera view selected in the other. It’s super clear and immensely handy for parking. Another Euro feature is the rocker and Park button design for the gear selector. Foot on brake, press a tab on the selector, rock forward for Reverse or back for Drive. Inexplicably, the GT-Line had more issues correctly selecting Reverse or Drive.Only the driver’s seat is electrically powered however both front seats are vented but only in the GT-Line (for the Australian market, this is a must) and heated. A slight redesign has these operated via simple console mounted rocker switch that lights blue for venting, red for heating. Across the range they’re supportive, comfortable, and do the job well enough, along with the ride quality, that you can do a good country drive and feel reasonably good at the break. The GT-Line also features two position memory seating and a pad for smartphone wireless charging for compatible smartphones. It’s a leather clad tiller and the GT-Line gets a flat bottomed one but the material felt cheap, as did the buttons under the three central airvents in comparison to the good looking interior design.Even the base model is well equipped for safety; there’s seven airbags for all models, front seatbelt pretensioning, pedestrian friendly AHLS or Active Hood Lift System before moving to Lane Keeping Assist and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (with forward collision alert and autonomous braking) in the V6 Si. The GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, and Dynamic Bending Headlights.Naturally there’s Kia’s class leading seven year warranty and the fixed priced servicing. The turbo four is cheaper from start to finish, with a gap of just three dollars for the first, two for the second, before the third service opens it to fifty. The final service sits at $785 for the V6 and $696 for the four.

At The End Of The Drive.
The easiest way to consider this is that, as a first attempt, Kia have just about nailed it. Just about. It’s a big car, seats four beautifully, rides as good as one should expect, goes like a scared rabbit in the V6 and a not quite so scared rabbit in the turbo four, is well equipped, and is utterly competitive for the features on price. Its biggest sticking point is one that’s completely inescapable and has already caused derision and division. It’s this: KIA.

Far too many people have locked themselves into the thought process that says Korea can’t built a competitor for the outgoing Commodore or the fading from memory Falcon. Ironically, as many have pointed out, detractors will have typed their sneering comments on a Korean built phone or have a Korean built TV. It’s also not unexpected that those slinging arrows from afar won’t avail themselves of the opportunity to test drive. More fool them.

However, for a first attempt, like any first attempt, there’s room for improvement. A lift in presence to say more how the car should be perceived is one, and fuel efficiency needing a VAST improvement is another. The last one is something both Kia’s marketing gurus and Australia’s luddites need to work on. That’s that a Kia CAN be this damned good. The 2018 Kia Stinger is that damned good car.

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Car Review: 2018 Kia Sorento Si

A Wheel Thing and Kia continue their long and proud association with the 2018 Kia Sorento Si seven seater spending a few days in the garage before two weeks of Stinger. The car provided has a RRP of $42990 plus metallic paint (Metal Stream) at $595 for a total price of $43585.There’s been some minor changes, both visible and non, compared to the previous model. The petrol engine has increased in size to 3.5L, up from 3.3L. Peak power of 206 kW is seen at 6500 rpm, and peak torque of 336 Nm comes in at 5000 rpm. This means the 4800 mm long, 1932 kg Si, capable of towing 2000 kilograms, has fuel consumption figures of 14.2L per 100 km of standard unleaded from the 71 litre tank around town. Get out on the highway and that drops by nearly half to 7.6L/100 km for the 2WD Si. A new eight speed auto is to thank for that and, quite simply, the combination of turbine smooth engine and silky sweet auto is superb.The Si is the entry level model of a four model Sorento range and comes well loaded with standard and safety equipment. Hold on:  A digital and analogue dash features across the range, as does an eight inch touchscreen (up an inch on the previous model) with DAB audio, satnav, safety audio settings for driving, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with voice control, multi-function steering wheel controls, three 12V and two USB sockets, six airbags including side curtain, Driver Attention Alert, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, and metallic look interior trim. That last one is an issue in the Australian climate as heat soak lends itself to burned fingertips. There’s six cup holders (two per seat row), four bottle holders (one in each door pocket), and a cargo blind is standard as well.The interior itself has received a mild freshen up, with new look plastics, a redesign to the look for the steering wheel and its controls, even the touchscreen and surrounds have been mildly massaged. It’s clean and elegant to both look at and touch. What’s missing from the inside is privacy glass for the rear seat passengers. Although the Si’s seats are cloth there’s no heating or venting until the GT-Line level. However dual zone climate control is standard from the Si up. It’s manual seat adjustment for the Si and Sport, with the SLi gaining power seats and two position lumbar support. The GT-Line goes to four way adjustment and thigh support.Leg room is always good for the front seats and good enough for most in the centre. The folding rear seats are compromised by design for leg room but wouldn’t be used, one would suspect, for anything other than city style journeying.  As always though Kia’s bent towards simplicity when needed is seen here with simple pull straps employed to raise and lower the third row seats. When they and the mid row seats are folded, there’s a huge 1662L of cargo space available.Outside the Sorento has also been given a light massage. The tail lights have been changed in look as has the front bumper, with a smooth scallop underneath the restyled headlights. A slimmer look to the headlight structure which incorporates the LED driving lights and a restyling to the bumper’s design bring a fresher look to the exterior overall. The rubber is from Nexen, being 235/65/17, and is also the smallest tyre/wheel combination of the four.Although they’re a high sidewall, there’s still plenty of chirping from the front even from what could be called a medium throttle application. That speaks more about the tyres themselves than the engine, given the high revs needed for peak torque. Ride quality, as a result, is somewhat spongy, soft, with a reasonable rebound from the front end over some rather large speedbumps. The rear seems somewhat more tied down in comparison.

The chassis itself is beautiful. Taken through a downhill rural road that has a mix of sweeping curves, tightening radius corners, and a couple of straights long enough to wind up before braking, it holds on and changes direction with minimal weight transfer. Even on the somewhat spongy Nexen rubber, there’s little to no doubt that you can throw the Sorento Si around and come out the other side.The Drive modes are accessible via a tab in the centre console and have AWT wondering why they’re still offered. In all of AWT’s exposure to such they’ve been barely and rarely used and moreso to find out if they made a difference to the actual feel of driving. There’s Comfort/Eco/Sport/Smart, with the last an adaptive system to road and driving conditions. Sport holds gear longer and loads up the steering, Eco is designed (and more suitable for) long distance driving as would Comfort suit as well.As mentioned, the engine and transmission are utterly harmonious in their partnership. Light throttle application has the big machine underway easily and with no perceptible change of ratio. Light the candle and the Sorento will scamper away with alacrity. There’s no vibration in the driveline and absolutely no sense of strain or stress. Jaguar’s V12 was known for its smoothness and this combination would be on a par.

On an uphill run, where traffic ahead slows forward progress and then clears, a moderate shove of the go pedal has a momentary hesitation, a deep inhale, before launching forward with surprising speed.

As always there’s Kia’s seven year warranty, seven year roadside assistance package, and capped price servicing for seven years or every 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of The Drive.
The Kia Sorento Si is for those that want an SUV to move people but don’t want a people mover. The fact that it’s not an off-road oriented car, due to its 2WD and no transfer case, means it’s likely to be used for ferrying the kids to and from school and to sports activities on the weekend. And this highlights the Achilles heel of the Sorento Si with a petrol engine. Economy was never been a strong point of the 3.3L and an urban figure over over 14.0L per 100 km doesn’t aid the cause. AWT finished close to 11.0L/100km which is more reasonable but still largely unacceptable.

But if fuel consumption is something not to be fussed about, and a large, comfortable, well equipped, good handling and driving SUV is what appeals, this is one that ticks far too many boxes to be ignored. Here’s where you can find more: 2018 Kia Sorento information

 

Korea Goals At Detroit Motor Show

If it’s January it’s Northern American car show time and Detroit stands at front and centre as one of the biggest. It’s a time where the car makers showcase what’s new and the two from Korea have been no different. Kia shows off a new Cerato and Hyundai unveils an updated Veloster.

Kia.
Cerato has received a substantial exterior update and wowee it’s a good looker. It’s sharper, edgier, sports a slimmer grille design and exudes sophistication in bucketloads. In profile it echoes the Stinger, with a longish bonnet and shortish tail proportionally, joined by a deep scallop in the doors. There’s further design cues from the bigger car, with the bonnet sporting a pair of eye-catching creases sitting over the restyled grille and assertive looking lower valance. There’s now two air intakes on either side and house relocated indicators. Headlights with a choice of LED or projection lamps will be available.The rear has been restyled as well, with LED lights as standard, while the indicators and reverse lamps are separate and located below them. Extra visual appeal has been added with a horizontal bar, similar to that seen on the Sportage, joining the lamp clusters.

Overall length has been increased by over eighty millimetres, taking it to 4640mm. This allows extra leg room and cargo space. Headroom goes up to 1440mm with width just shy of 1800mm. Interior changes start with a redesigned console housing an eight inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless smartphone charging will be made available and Harman Kardon have stepped up to offer a 320 watt sound system. Airvents are inspired by the aeronautic industry and interior finish is increased with softer materials. Seat frame strength has been increased without gaining weight plus denser foam for better support has been fitted.

Underneath the Cerato has extra “hot stamped” components and a higher percentage (54%) high tensile strength steel. The chassis is sixteen percent stiffer as a result, which also aids ride and handling. Suspension changes and upgrades to the brakes have been enabled to provide better feedback.

The engine features an Atkinson cycle and a cooling system for the Exhaust Gas Recycling to help with power and emissions. Kia have also developed their first in-house CVT as well. Combined fuel economy, as a result, drops to 6.7L/100km.

Safety goes up a notch with the inclusion of Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance and Smart Cruise Control.

The new Cerato is due for Australia towards the end of 2018 and full specs and pricing will be made available then.

Hyundai.
Hyundai’s evergreen example of quirkiness, the Veloster, has been transformed thanks to a massive reworking to the exterior. With style cues shared with the i30’s update, the Veloster retains its unique 2+1 door configuration yet looks fresh and new. It looks lower, flatter, sharper as well, with a longer bonnet balanced by a more emphasised rear quarter curve. The overall look is more purposeful and muscular.The grille is enlarged and enhanced, with LED headlights to be available along with LED driving lights. LED tail lights will also be available. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and do a better job of filling in the wheel arches. The rear air diffuser is more pronounced and is bracketed by exhaust tips with a “phatter” look.The previously V shaped motif style in the interior is gone, replaced by a classier look and feel yet retains the driver’s cockpit ethic. With the Turbo model a difference in colours highlights the driver’s section further.Engine wise, the 2.0L petrol engine also gets the Atkinson Cycle, with peak power and torque sitting on 110kW and 179Nm, albeit at a high 4500 rpm. Transmission will be either a six speed manual or six speed auto. The Turbo engine is a smaller yet more potent beast, with a 1.6L capacity delivering 159kW and a flat torque figure of 264Nm from 1500 to 4500 rpm plus an overboost that raises torque by 10Nm. The six speed manual will be offered alongside a seven speed dual clutch auto with both transmissions designed in-house. There’s even a new audio feedback system that pipes intake and exhaust sounds to the cabin in an effort to further enhance the driving experience.

Torque Vectoring Control will be standard on Veloster and will partner with a revised steering ratio and calibration for better handling. Along with 18 inch alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber the Veloster should take all a driver can throw at it and more.

Safety will come from a similar equipment list to the Cerato, with Forward Collision Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Driver Attention Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Warning. A rear view camera with guidelines will be standard across the range. There’s six airbags as standard which means the driver’s kneebag will not be on board.Entertainment comes from the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled touchscreen with international spec models receiving satellite radio and HD audio upgrades. A Head Up display may be available for the Aussie market also as will wireless charging. Again, pricing and specifications will be made available closer to release.

2017 Was A Car-razy Year For Sales In Australia

Car sales people in Australia should have cause to sit back and enjoy a cold one after VFACTS said that 1,189,116 vehicles were sold in 2017. That includes record numbers for Japanese niche filler, and a brand that really should be considered mainstream, Subaru. Korea should also celebrate as Kia saw record numbers as well.

But there’s also signs of a continuing trend that’ll have some smiling and others pensive, as 2017 marks the first year that SUVs outsold the traditional passenger car. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said: “2017 marks the first full year in which the sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have outstripped those of passenger cars. Australians bought 465,646 SUVs during 2017 for a 39.2 per cent share of the total market, compared with 450,012 passenger cars with a 37.8 per cent share. The shift in industry dynamic we observed last year has now become entrenched in our market. It is a growth pattern that we expect will continue.”

Even light commercial vehicles saw an increase; 2017 has that category with a market share of 19.9% in 2017, up from 18.8% in 2016.

The Toyota brand will be celebrating as both brand and a Toyota badged vehicle took the number one sales position. Toyota had a 18.2% market share and the HiLux was the winner for both 2017 and in December, selling 3949 units, just ahead of Holden‘s Astra at 3533.
Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, and Mitsubishi rounded out the top five, with Kia cracking the 50,000 mark for the first time ever and seeing 54,737 cars roll out from the showroom for ninth. Subaru claimed tenth, also with a plus 50K figure at 52,511.Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan filled the remaining places with Ford’s Ranger at 3458 just pipping Holden’s revamped Colorado on 3222. It should be noted that the Colorado had an increase of 165.6% for December 2017 over the same period the year before. On 2807 for December 2017 was the petite Mazda3, a decrease of 10.6%. It was an upswing for the next highest selling vehicle and the gong goes to Mitsubishi‘s Triton, with 25.6% and 2645 sales.

Toyota’s evergreen Corolla had a backwards step, with a minus figure of 9.8% but still saw 2641 versions find new homes in December. With local manufacturing wrapping up, Holden still managed to see the VF series 2 Commodore into 2229 homes, a slight increase of just 4.6%. A facelift and some sharp pricing for the Mitsubishi ASX, in need of an interior overhaul, take ninth with an increase of 43.4% and 2128 sales. Tenth overall in December was Mazda‘s CX5, just behind the ASX on 2113 and a mild increase of 10.9%

Kia’s Cerato was behind the push to crack the 50K mark.With an increase of just under 43%, at 18,371 sales. Big numbers for Sportage as well, with 13,448 being sold and that’s an increase of 23.1%. The baby Picanto, itself receiving an update, dominated its category with a whopping 46.5% market share, as Carnival also dominated, with virtually half of the People Mover market under $60,000 wearing the Korean badge.December 2017 saw thirty six consecutive months of growth for the Subaru brand. Leading the way was the Forester, rolling into 12,474 new homes in 2017. The Liberty wagon based Outback was a close third, on 11,340, whilst the new for mid 2017 XV had increases of 22.6% for the year and 69.9% for December, with 10,161 and 1069 sales respectively. A slight revamp for the BRZ coupe saw an increase of 137.5% for 786 sales.It was the facelifted Impreza range that snared second place for Subaru sales in 2017, with a massive increase of 151.9% over 2016 sales and 11,903 cars saying goodbye to the showroom. Both Liberty and Outback are due for updates in 2018 and Subaru have also flagged a major revamp for the Forester which will be due in the last quarter of 2018.

2018 Kia Stinger Details Released.

It’s a highly anticipated and hotly debated subject encapsulated in two words: Kia Stinger. Kia’s been drip teasing information in the lead up to the official launch in September of 2017 and we now know more about what this car has to offer the Australian motoring public, in three trim levels.

Engine & Tranmission: It’s a development of Kia’s lusty 3.3L V6. Complete with a twin turbo set you’ll see a peak power of 272 kilowatts, torque is a stump pulling 510 Nm, and a quoted zero to one hundred time of 4.9 seconds with a Launch Control function on board as standard. Transmission is an eight speed auto and here’s the part that’s bugged a number of Aussies: it powers down via the rear, not front, wheels. Anchors are from Brembo, with 350 mm discs and quad pistons up front, 340 mm and dual piston stoppers at the rear.

Tyres: the entry level S model gets Continental ContiSport Contact 5 rubber, 225/45 on 18 inch alloys. The next step is the Si, with 19-inch alloys wrapped in 225/40R profile front tyres and 255/35R19 rears. The top of the range GT spec tyres have not yet been finalised.

Trim Spec: With safety a primary concern, the Stinger S packs a full suite of active and passive safety, featuring anti-lock braking with emergency brakeforce distribution and brake assist, Electronic Stability Control and traction control, Vehicle Stability Management, hill assist, rear view camera with dynamic parking guidelines, rear cross traffic alert, active hood pedestrian protection, LED daylight running lights and three child restraint points (two ISOFIX).

On the passive safety front there are seven airbags including a driver’s side knee bag, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters. The driver enjoys 8-way adjustment for the artificial leather sports seating while the front seat passenger can adjust their seating six ways to find the optimum comfort position.
Cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls is standard, along with 3.5-inch mono instrument cluster, two 12V power outlets and two USB charging points.
The entertainment system boasts six speakers, a 7-inch touch screen control centre with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth compatibility and music streaming.

The Si “takes it up a notch” withgetting more technology in the form of Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Alert, front parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers.
On the comfort and convenience front the Si gains Advanced Smart Cruise Control, while in line with the S there are four cup holders and four bottle holders, a centre console storage box and front seat pockets but the Si adds an under floor luggage tray and a luggage net. The entertainment system features an 8-inch touch screen and nine speakers which includes two under seat woofers (nice for a subtle massage….).

The Supreme pizza, garlic bread, drink, and free delivery package for the GT is impressive. How about a HUD (Head Up Display), 360 degree cameras, High Beam Assist, Dynamic Bending Lights for the LED auto levelling headlights, and Blind Spot Detection. Outside there’s electrochromatic door mirrors, sunroof, and two specific GT colours (Aurora Black and a pearl Snow White).

Inside the seats get beautiful GT embossed Nappa leather covered powered seats, with lumbar support, bolster adjuster, and under thigh extender. Instrumention goes up to a full colour seven inch TFT screen, whilst the pedals get alloy trim as standard. Wireless phone charging comes on board, as does suede trim for the roof and pillars. Need your fillings removed and ear wax shaken loose? The entertainment system takes a major step up with a premium 15-speaker Harman/Kardon system (eight speakers, four tweeters, centre speaker and two subwoofers powered by an external amplifier).

It really has divided the motoring public in Australia yet every motoring publication has rated the $48990 S, $55990 Si, and $59990 GT as being incredible value and an excellent car to drive. http://www.kia.com.au will have the link for you to book a test drive and source more information.

Car Review: 2017 Kia Picanto.

There’s small cars, and there’s micro cars, and those that sort of slot in between. Kia’s Picanto is a small car that defies its external size to offer a well packaged and uncommonly roomy interior, all the while looking like it would fit into the tray of a four wheel drive ute. A Wheel Thing explores the funky 2017 Kia Picanto, priced at (at the time of writing), $16230 driveaway with metallic paint (Pop Orange on the test vehicle).And when AWT says Picanto, it means Picanto. To paraphrase Chief Engineer Scott from Star Trek:The Next Generation’s brilliant episode “Relics”: “There’s no bloody S, no bloody Si, no bloody GT Line”. What you get is a single trim level, a 1.25 litre four, a five speed manual or archaic four speed auto, which is what the test car was fitted with. The little engine that could delivers 66 kilowatts at 6000 rpm and 122 Nm which peaks at 4000 rpm.The fuel thimble holds just 35 litres however fuel consumption for the auto is rated at 5.8L/100 km for a combined cycle. As it’s a city car in intent, figure on 7.9L/100 km around town. If you do decide to drive outside of the big city, it’s rated for 4.9L/100 km. That’s from a dry weight of five kilos under the tonne. AWT finished on 6.6L/100 km in a mainly city environment and generally with one aboard.

We said it was small. How does 3595 mm long, 1595 mm wide, 1485 mm tall, and a huge (relatively 2400 mm) wheelbase sound? Sounds horrible, right? But it’s that wheelbase increase (up slightly from the previous model) that provides ample legroom up front, enough for reasonable comfort for two adults in the back, and enough shoulder and head room for four without constant body contact. There’s even enough room to slide in 255L of cargo space with the comfortable rear pews up.What’s not small is the ability of the Picanto to deal with varying driving conditions, thanks to the brilliantly Australianised specification for the suspension. Kia’s engineers have tweaked the McPherson strut front and coupled torsion beam rear even further, and what is delivered is nothing short of surprising. It’s fair to expect a small car, riding on 175/65/14 rubber (wrapping steel wheels with alloy look wheel covers) from Nexen, to hop/jump/skip around on anything other than billiard table flat surfaces. Nope. You’ll get a car that’s composed, unflustered, sometimes even displaying indifference to broken or breaking up surfaces. Toss the little machine into a long flowing curve and there’s a subtle shift of balance as the car resettles. It’s nimble, adept, and sure footed.

There is a bit of crash from the front as you roll over the damnable shopping centre speed humps, but there’s no ongoing motion, simply an acknowledgement of a minor irritant. The electrically assisted steering and overall size play a major part in making this environment easy and liveable to deal with, as is moving it around on the tarmac. A smooth and fluid transition from lane to lane is also what this Picanto will deliver. Like most cars of this size, it will understeer when pushed hard, scrubbing the tyres, but really only in tightening corners and when taking advantage of the chassis dynamics.If there’s a downside to the driving experience, it’s fingers pointed at the transmission. No, not because it’s harsh, unforgiving, stuttery as it’s completely the opposite in being smooth, quiet, responsive. It’s the number four. As in ratios. As much of not being a fan of CVT as A Wheel Thing is, the small torque output would be ideally suited to one of them. A further option to explore would be to look at what niche small car maker Suzuki has done. They’ve engineered some pokey small capacity turbo engines and have bolted them to six speed autos. Straight up it improves the driveability of the car, the usefullness of the engine and by having the extra ratios, economy hovers around the 6.0L/100 km mark.The interior is markedly improved from the previous model, with a seven inch touchscreen mounted up high in the centre console, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, reverse parking sensors and reverse camera, supportive cloth covered seats, a driving position that is comfortable enough, cruise control, and classic Kia ergonomics. Tech wise there’s auto headlights, globe lit driving lights, Bluetooth, and a USB and 12V socket in the front centre console.A noticeable feature or two of the Picanto’s interior is the resemblance to a couple of icons. One is the cluster that holds the dial based aircon controls, looking like a controller from a games console from Japan. The other is the broad sweep of the dash that terminates at either end with two air vents that bears more than a passing resemblance to a 1950s Cadillac’s tail.The trim itself is a mix of textured black plastic, alloy look highlights, and splashes of piano black around the touchscreen. The cloth trim has a subtle charcoal and light grey trim and complements the roof lining’s grey shade. The rear cargo space is trimmed with the standard hard wearing carpet and leads to a space saving spare. Storage inside is adequate with two cup holders in the centre, bottle holders for the doors, and there’s even a coat hook in the rear.The outside lifts the Picanto onto another level, with a striking sweep to the headlights, a determined and assertive font design, a pert and tight rear and in profile shows all four wheels pushed as far as practically possible to the corners. There’s potential in the exterior design, potential…..Naturally there’s six airbags, driver aids in the form of stability managements, hill start assist and the like, 2 ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing for seven years. Maximum cost is at the four year or 60000 kilometre mark, with a current scheduled price of $493.At The End Of The Drive.
A Wheel Thing sees potential above what the Picanto already delivers. It has the potential to become a cult classic car thanks to the fabulous chassis underneath, funky and eyecatching looks, and simply needs a more sporty engine and transmission combination, and a mild fettling of the body, to be a cult classic city car. Head over to Kia Australia’s Picanto to check it out for yourself.

Car Review: 2017 Kia Cerato Sport.

Car makers have a habit of badging a vehicle and calling it a Sports model. Holden did it with the SV6 Commodore, Ford’s Falcon XR6, Toyota with the Camry and Aurion…generally it’s cosmetic and that’s it. Kia has jumped on the sports wagon and added one to the Cerato family as the 2017 Kia Cerato Sport. It’s priced at $24790 RRP plus metallic paint (Snow White metallic pearl on the test car) at $520.Mechanically you get Kia’s free spinning two litre petrol four. It’s good for 112 kilowatts (6200 rpm) and 192 torques (4000 rpm). It’s a six speed auto in the test car. The ratios see around 2250 on the tacho for the state limit in Australia of 110 kph. Economy is claimed to be, from a fifty litre tank of standard unleaded, 9.9L/100 km for the city, a more reasonable 5.7 L/100 km for the highway, and a combined figure of 7.3L/100 km. AWT saw a best of 6.2L/100 kilometres on a jaunt to the upper south coast of NSW and back.Externally you get a lithe, slippery, sinuously shaped 4560 mm long body with a solitary Sport badge on the left rear, the addition of a small bootlid spoiler above the 421 litre boot, sweet looking alloys and Nexen rubber of a 215/45/17 profile, with the overall look of a wheel and tyre combination failing to look as if they fit and fill the wheelwells. Perhaps 18s and a 50 series tyre would look more as if they’d fill the hole, but at what cost for ride quality? The Schreyer grille is a touch more upright and adds a visible extra toughness.To add to the Sport, you get a black valance for the rear bumper, globe driving lights in the front (no LED driving lights, they’re reserved for the top of the range SLi) and a number of features shared with the models either side, the S and Si, such as front and rear parking sensors, mirror mounted indicator lights, and folding heated exterior mirrors. The headlights slide deep into the fenders and have a white plastic insert that does nothing for lighting but breaks up the look to provide a bit more visual appeal. However, they’re not as sharped edged and attractive as sister car, Hyundai’s Elantra. The rear lights have also been given a slight makeover, with the look now more akin to a Euro style car.Internally it’s standard Kia; great ergonomics, clean layout and easy to read dash and console controls, cloth seats (shared with the S and covered in a harder wearing weave), a man made leather wrapped driver’s binnacle, 2 twelve volt sockets and USB, plenty of leg room inside the 2700 mm wheelbase and shoulder room in the small mid sized sedan thanks to an overall width of 1780 mm. Airconditioning is controlled by old school dials; old school they may be but there’s nothing simpler than a dial with pictures to tell you how hot/cold, how much blowing speed and where it’s going. Naturally there’s Bluetooth and a reverse camera to complement the six airbags plus there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on board.Audio and satnav are controlled via a seven inch touchscreen and it’s here where technology niggles. From Start, the screen shows a warning message and requires human intervention to agree and move forward. AWT is not a fan of such a program, whereas a timed delay before reverting to the radio screen would be more appropriate. The satnav is brilliant in look and usage, showing a proper geographical perspective for the surrounding lands, and can be zoomed/expanded via the radio tuning knob on the right hand side.The driver faces a simple two dial layount, with speed and engine rev counter taking pride of place and fuel & engine temperature in two small sectioned locations to the bottom. In between the main dials is the info screen, with servicing intervals, speed, economy, trip meters and more available via the steering wheel mounted tabs. Again, typical, user friendly, human oriented Kia. The dash design overall hasn’t changed much, with the ovoid, curved, look and sweeping vertically oriented lines breaking up an otherwise somewhat slabby black plastic presence.The six speed auto in the test car didn’t exhibit anything out of the ordinary nor was it the slickest, smoothest, transmission around. Hesitant and jerky sometimes from low throttle start, sometimes sweet and unfussed, barely noticeable in changes at speed, easily self changing on slight slopes and descents to holding a gear too long on a downhill or uphill run and requiring manual intervention. There’s three dive modes (Sport/Normal/Eco) and only rarely was Sport called upon for it’s quicker shifting. A mixed bag and not one of the best nor worst around and not really deserving of a Sport moniker.

The ride itself though is a delight and shows off the fettling Kia’s engineers have added. It’s well damped in the McPherson strut front/coupled torsion beam rear, with smaller lumps and bumps quickly dialled out, quick rebound from bigger dips and undualtions, however there was a sideways skip occasionally on some unsettled surfaces. The front benefits from uprated springs, adding a poise and nimbleness in turn-in.Tyre pressures were crucial, too, with 36 psi having the Cerato Sport feeling taut, grippy but also a touch skatey in tighter corners. Around 32 psi would provide the ideal balnce for ride and handling. You get a sense of agility, confidence, and tactility though, with a feeling that it’d require some serious issues to lose grip. But the electrically assisted steering is perhaps a little too eager to help, lacking real feedback and communication, with numbness on centre and an artifical weight once wound left and right plus a sense of twitchiness requiring the driver to add in minute corrections as you pedal along.

Acceleration is adequate without much sparkle, meaning a good press of the go pedal to move the 1309 kilo plus cargo is needed. Seat of the pants says around 8 to 9 seconds to 100 kph. The engine is smooth and never feels stresed as it climbs through the numbers but will sound a touch harsh and metallic as it gets over 4500.

The Cerato Sport gets the basics in electronic safety, such as Vehicle Stability Management, Hill Start Assist but being closer to entry level it misses out on Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and the like. However there’s the embedded seven year warranty and fixed price servicing, with a maximum cost of $487 in the fourth service.At The End Of The Drive.
The cynical part of society would question adding a Sport nomenclature to a vehicle that basically isn’t. One would look for a turbo engine, perhaps a close ratio manual, a sports style front dam and side skirts. But, as mentioned, other makers have a standard car, added a bit of plastic and left the engine and transmission untouched. Kia’s Cerato Sport is pretty much this but slightly less, lacking side skirts and a definable Sport look. The cynical part of AWT would say that the firecracker turbo engine from the lamented Pro Ceed GT and the quad LED driving lights plus a standalone boot lid spoiler would be a look more befitting of a car to wear a Sport badge…
To make up your own mind and book a test drive, here’s the link to the 2017 Kia Cerato sedan